TramShed Theatre Company have been delivering Inclusive performing arts workshops to children, young people and adults since May 2007. Throughout this time we have worked on some amazing projects and showcased several original musical theatre productions.
The testimonials below are taken from TramShed members, families of TramShed members, our volunteer team and working partners. We are proud to share how TramShed’s work has impacted on so many individuals.
My Mum regularly watched TramShed productions with friends and was amazed by the quality and inclusivity of the performances and the themes and issues addressed in the productions. When it became clear that my daughter Niamh had an Autistic Spectrum Condition, she encouraged my to inquire about a place for her in the TramShed workshops. As a result, we have been part of the TramShed family since September 2014 when Niamh joined the Mini Children’s Theatre, just after her 4th birthday. Due to Niamh’s difficulties, accessing community activities could be difficult, but every member of the TramShed team were supportive to Niamh, and our family, enabling her to participate in the workshops and productions. Over the past 5 years, the TramShed team has responded sensitively to Niamh’s communication and sensory differences, giving her the confidence to performing on stage independently and to form friendships with other members. Niamh looks forward to the weekly workshops and performing on show weeks. A highlight for us was when Niamh and other Children’s Theatre members performed with Sheridan Smith at Lytham Proms in July 2019. This would have been a huge challenge for any 8-year-old, but especially for an 8-year-old with the sensory and communication challenges of ASC. Again, the TramShed team were amazing in enabling Niamh to feel calm in a very noisy and busy environment and it was so fantastic to see Niamh and her friends performing. When Niamh joined TramShed in 2014, she was a 4-year-old really struggling with the sensory and communication challenges of her condition, but through the amazing support of the TramShed team, her condition is no longer a barrier, preventing her from accessing community activities. It was wonderful to see Niamh performing a solo in the December 2019 production, and it was a testament to the TramShed team who have encouraged and supported her over the years, giving her the confidence to sing independently on stage. TramShed is such an amazing organisation because it is so inclusive, all members have their unique role and they each shine on stage, making the performances and TramShed community so successful. Niamh has been a TramShed member for over 5 years now, and myself and my Mum have joined the TramShed family as backstage chaperones. TramShed benefits not only its members, but also the wider community, by demonstrating that labels are not a barrier for performance. We all hope to be part of TramShed for many more happy years. Kate Harper – TramShed Parent
Our students at Sir Tom Finney Community High School are accustomed to working with practitioners from external agencies, but nothing could have prepared them for Vicky and Kitty.
Their enthusiasm and passion for the performance that they created with our students was incredible. Vicky and Kitty worked tirelessly to bring out the best in our kids, bringing an infectious positive attitude to the whole experience for our students and getting some great performances from our students.
All our students were engaged and on task, creating a thought-provoking piece about recycling and the environment, coming up with great ideas and working hard but also having a great laugh. The hour-long weekly sessions were perfectly suited to our students and endeavoured to involve the children in a performance that they understood and could have creative input and ideas for. Vicky and Kitty have been an absolute joy to have in school and it has been a pleasure to work with them. The whole experience has been fantastic and I look forward to working with Tramshed again in the future. Nadia Cope – Performing Arts Co-ordinator
At Bispham Endowed Church of England Primary School, we have worked with TramShed since September 2018. We have thoroughly enjoyed the sessions and performances taught by Vicky and Natalie including a project named ‘Africa’ and ‘Happy to be Me’. The children are engaged and excited by the experiences provided on a weekly basis by the team. The sessions are well planned and thought out and tailored to meet the needs and interests of our children. Zac is a pleasure to deal with and his efficiency enables a constant ‘smooth running’ of operations. – Faye Haslam – Assistant Headteacher
Oscar was 8 and Tobias was 6 when our friend Marion mentioned TramShed to us. To be honest, we joined as it sounded fun! Oscar has NF1 and at school was as quiet as a mouse. For a whole year in pre school he spoke to no one and only the occasional words to his key worker. He attended private speech therapy lessons for three years, but as the NHS sessions were in groups, Oscar was too shy to talk. Tobias was a whirling dervish, going where angels fear to tread! We were always being told he was immature and needed calming. Little did we understand the crucial role TramShed was to play in our lives.
The boys have enjoyed parts in all the shows, the first of which was Heads or Tails. We remember sitting in the audience and being so nervous about what we were about to view, would the boys behave and could Oscar perform in public. We need not have worried, they loved it. The boys were both amazing, so much so that a school teacher attended and cried, as she had taught Oscar and barley heard his voice at school! Like many other people, we have had tough times. Approximately two years ago, Oscar attended a routine eye check and an MRI was advised as they discovered two small lesions in his brain. He is fine, it is related to the NF1 and he needs annual MRI’s, but his school friend was diagnosed with DIPG tumour at the same time and has since died. TramShed were there to support Oscar and us as parents (and Tobias). Also, within the last six months, Tobias has been diagnosed with dyslexia and autism. Sometimes his behaviour was confrontational as a smoke screen for both it would seem.
Well done TramShed for giving these little boys, (one who had no voice and now delivers lines like a pro and one who feels he is dumb) the confidence to sing and act in public. You are our shining light. You put into practice an ethos that should be prevalent throughout education, health and social care, but is usually sadly lacking. We are all individuals and that is never a negative, only a positive in life! – Latrisha Humphreys – TramShed Parent
Thank you so much to Vicky and Natalie from TramShed, who worked with massive enthusiasm with pupils from Fleetwood High school on the project funded by Regenda Homes called ‘Money’. All pupils were fully engaged from start to finish. A perfect combination of fun and hard work and the pupils had a real sense of pride and accomplishment in their performance. We have all loved having you in working with us in school and we hope we will be fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with you again. Julie Stotesbury – Fleetwood High School
We have used external agencies for drama workshops before but I have to say, Vicky & Natalie delivered the best one by far! The students loved it and we got more out of some students than we expected, which is always a huge bonus for us. We found that TramShed had a really natural, comfortable style of delivery which was just right for our students! Their enthusiasm towards the session definitely added to our student’s enthusiasm. We would love to have them back for more fun soon! Kathryn Fawbert – Foundation Learning Support Tutor – Cardinal Newman College
At the age of 11 I joined TramShed with my best friend as I loved to perform and sing. When high school commitments clashed, my friend left and I thought that I would just go with her. I spoke to Zac about helping more because I loved helping with the young children. I became a Youth Volunteer and everything in my world changed. I was given the opportunity to learn amazing life skills, have some valuable training on many subjects and above all to work with a team of such amazing inspirational, caring people who will be life long friends. The main ethos of TramShed is inclusivity, being included no matter who you are, age, gender, sexuality or race. Everyone is welcome and treated with respect at weekly workshops and during shows. I love to perform , especially singing, and this opportunity to be involved in such an amazing company has made my confidence grow and I was thrilled to receive the Junior Inclusive Performing Arts award this year. The people I work with every week would never have been in my life if I hadn’t joined TramShed -people I would never have believed I would ever have any dealings with have become lifelong friends and the fun times we have shared are the best. I get so excited as we plan shows together, researching topics I would never even be able to think about makes the shows more special. TramShed affects so many people and it truly makes life changing differences to confidence and attitude. I know it is the one group I will always love to be a part of. Phoebe Hickling – Youth Theatre (Sept 2014 – Present)
Luca started TramShed in January to spend extra time with his friend. What I’ve seen over the past few nights during Change Makers, is a boy who has developed confidence, increased co-ordination and a smile that has grown wider. He’s now a part of a family of amazing individual’s. Helina Johnson – TramShed Parent
When I first came to TramShed I was shy and wasn’t confident at all, I remember saying to my mum that this wasn’t going to help me at all and it was going to be boring. Well how wrong was I and I can’t thank my mum enough for pushing to go because it has honestly been the best time of my life. I want to say a huge thank you to Zac and his team, because if it wasn’t for them TramShed wouldn’t of happened. You are all stars and you all make sure everyone is included in workshops and in the theatre! Abby Davies – Youth Theatre (Sept 2016 – Present)
Being part of the Muli Mutya Lancashire project has been a life changing experience for me. Before that I had never heard of inclusion nor had I ever thought about an inclusive theatre. This was a first of its kind idea and experience for me and my country (Uganda).
The team I worked with was vibrant and full of life. They were passionate and inspired me to start thinking about an inclusive community and an inclusive country.
After the training I decided to share my knowledge and experience with children with special needs. I also shared the idea with my mates and extended the training to them as well together, we started the Unseen Dreams Inclusive Dance Arts Festival, a festival that promotes inclusive arts. The visually impaired, the hearing impaired, the physically challenged, street children, the acid survivors, HIV victims, those with mental illnesses, the cancer survivors/victims and many more are the heroes in our festival. The festival is one of its kind in Uganda whose main goal is to promote social inclusion through culture and arts.
TramShed helped me realise the challenges within my community and my country. The members who came to train me, helped me with the tools to address it. We had 156 participants during our last festival held on 13th August 2016 at National Theatre Uganda. The children had a very enriching time and learned that their disability could be changed into something empowering. They learned that they are also talented and beautiful people of this earth and that they matter. We are currently in the process of making the festival happen his year which is slated for 14th October 2017. The children are excited to present their talents to the world. I believe organisations like TramShed help our community realise the purpose of humanity, brother hood, unity and to be more Humane, which is the need of the hour. Thank you. Tereka Kenneth Desire – National Theatre, Kampala, Uganda
Since working with TramShed as part of the Muli Mutya project, I have loved the whole ethos and nature of the company. I started by bringing small groups of children from Woodlands School to two local primary schools to experience inclusive theatre for the first time.
For the children it was a fantastic chance to take part in fun activities with their peers. They loved it. For me it was the start of something much bigger.
I became a volunteer and instantly made a whole new amazing group of friends with different backgrounds, needs and abilities. To say it was life changing is cliche, but so true. To see how our children, young people and adults develop with the support of the Arts Practitioner team, members and volunteers is truly rewarding. There are no barriers, everyone is included, supported if needed and I feel part of something very special. TramShed is somewhere you can come to be yourself, develop, grow, shine and help others who would maybe struggle to cope in other organisations. As we celebrate our tenth year together, however long you have been involved, we look forward to the next ten years. How exciting is that? Berni Ashworth -Adult Volunteer Team
Woodlands School is proud to be associated with TramShed Theatre Company. It is an inspirational, inclusive theatre organisation that is totally committed to providing uplifting, high quality inclusive performing arts experiences to the widest possible range of people. The TramShed Team are passionate about inclusive theatre and the benefits it can bring to the community and it’s members; including many children and young people who currently attend or have attended, Woodlands School. Being a member of TramShed supports them to overcome barriers and creates opportunities for them to make friendships that last a lifetime; a crucial network of support for them. The Company fully engenders our own ethos and supports us in our vision for children’s aspirations for independence and lifelong learning. It puts respect, friendship community and teamwork at the heart of everything they do. Ian Howson – Woodlands School Chair of Governors
TramShed gives me the opportunity to be with young people that have a ‘can do’ attitude, enjoy being with each other and gives me a chance to stretch boundaries and be myself. Each TramShed session provides care and consideration for members, whilst giving lots of help and encouragement when trying to do something different. TramShed takes time to focus on the individual and develop abilities that can be lost in school or the wider adult care community. Children develop skills that can help their chosen path in adult life and adults develop a sense of belonging and importance. Everyone’s individuality is always given the opportunity to shine at TramShed and for me the best thing about it is being part of a team. Karen Allison – Adult Company (May 2007 – Present)
Phoebe joined TramShed in 2015 and although she had plenty of confidence then at age 11, she has been given some wonderful parts in the two shows she has been in which has tested and stretched her each and every week. She was welcomed into the company with open arms and every week spoke about a new friend or character that she had been introduced to. She spoke often about individual people who she had worked with or the leaders with such affection that we knew she was very happy. In the first show ‘Sticks and Stones’ she took one of the main parts of Emily and really worked hard to learn her script and songs.
The result was astounding! The show was so professional, with each and every person playing a fantastic part. The team work and mutual respect and love the cast and team have for each other is so evident to all watching from the audience. The same can be said for the Christmas production, All you need is love. The mixture of reflective themes with happy, smiling faces, comedy and lovely singing makes the shows some of the best we have seen. Phoebe was awarded a scholarship to another theatre company which clashed with TramShed and she was forced to choose between them. There was no competition, she opted to stay at TramShed and has now become a youth volunteer, receiving full inclusivity training. These are skills which without question will help her go through her life having a much greater understanding of differences and individuality. We can’t thank Zac and the team enough for this opportunity. There isn’t another theatre group with the same ethos in this locality, but there should be. This company oozes love, dedication and commitment to deliver real, thought provoking and polished performances which are so enjoyable to watch. Keep up the fantastic work team TramShed. Sally Hickling – TramShed Parent
Never in my life have I ever or will I ever again have the privilege of working with such an amazing group of people, I love each and every one of you so much and this incredible theatre company and what it stands for has changed my life forever. Jack Taylor – Adult Company(September 2010 – July 2017)
I first brought Alicia to TramShed when she was just 5. At that time she had many behavioural issues and struggled focusing due to a later diagnosis of ADHD. However, I thought it may really help Alicia to do an activity such as inclusive drama, as it can help with many abilities and hopefully be fun. It was very difficult at first, she wouldn’t concentrate or focus and even sometimes being physically rough with other kids. Even though she loves socialising, she found it difficult. Rather than just give up on her as many other places had, Tina and Zac suggested that I start to bring her for 20 minutes in the beginning.
After a few months of this she began to settle down, Tina became very aware of Alicia’s needs and was able to respond to Alicia and help with her behaviour. We discussed tactics and anything that would help Alicia and they were very patient and kind, persevering, even though at times I know it was very difficult for them to manage. After sometime Alicia then went to half an hour and eventually in the second or third year was able to stay there the whole time. Now Alicia is 11 and she still loves TramShed, she has been in all of the Productions. The last couple of years she has even had a couple of lines. My whole family come to the Productions, we love them and we are so proud of Alicia. I am so grateful to TramShed for including her and working so hard with her and I know Alicia loves it. Jeanette Dervish – TramShed Parent
Before joining TramShed I had attended many different theatre company’s and drama clubs but I never really felt that I fitted in, I had no confidence in my abilities and never felt good enough. From the minute I walked through the door at TramShed I was made welcome and it was as though I had been a part of the group forever. TramShed isn’t just like a club you attend for an hour then forget about for the rest of the week, it’s a family, for me it’s the best part of my week and I have made friendships that I will probably continue for the rest of my life, the volunteers and members don’t have to try to be inclusive, it comes as a second nature to them, everyone is treated with the same respect and dignity and equity is hugely important to us all.
Each TramShed session is different, no one week is the same and that for me is the best part, there are always new opportunities for members to reach their full potential and everything is tailored around the individuals rather than generic sessions like you find in most theatre company’s. It is important to have organisations like TramShed available because it changes the lives of so many individuals for the better, TramShed has given me a new found confidence that I wouldn’t have had if it wasn’t there and it’s actually been the inspiration for my career path and the reason I am doing my degree. Thank-you TramShed!! Sophie England – Youth Theatre (September 2012 – July 2015)
Since I joined TramShed in 2011, I have grown in confidence. It has given me the opportunity to be myself, where as before I never had any confidence. TramShed is my second family, I feel so comfortable and like I belong there. The shows they put together are amazing and I’m so happy to be a part of them. Since I also started volunteering last January, I have really enjoyed working with the younger ones and helping them with their lines and also choreography that’s also a great confidence builder for me.
This summer will by my 10th show and I’m so looking forward to it and hope to do so many more. Thank you TramShed for helping me build my confidence and helping the real me come out of my shell. Arron Rees – Adult Company (Sept 2011 – 2017)
We realised from an early age that Scarlett loved most to express herself by singing and dancing even though she had not much by way of verbal language and communication. When singing a song you could understand only a similarity to a word here and there but you could always tell what she was singing by the tune.
When we heard about TramShed we decided it was exactly what we needed to help Scarlett develop the way she expresses herself and hopefully this would help her with her communication skills. Since starting at TramShed eighteen months ago Scarlett has grown in confidence and has been finding more effective ways to express herself and communicate and entertain.
There’s nothing she likes more than getting other people to laugh. TramShed gives her the opportunity to socialise and access the wider community something very precious for a disabled child who has little opportunity to get out of her home and have a break away from her severely disabled older brother. Although Scarlett has not been able to take part in one of TramShed’s shows as yet, because of her condition, the group has still supported her, tailoring the sessions to meet her needs and allowing her to develop at a pace that is suitable to her. It is so important and cannot be underestimated the value of TramShed in a disability world in which support and services are shrinking at an alarming rate because of cut backs. Michelle Dunn – TramShed Parent
To put it simply, TramShed has made me into the person I am today. I’ve been here since the first Children’s Theatre session in September 2007 and I’ve never wanted to stop coming since then. Nowhere else have I found this amazing little community spirit that’s grown from a few eager fans of the arts to a massive family of over 80 members!
I don’t want to think about where I’d be without TramShed because I know my life wouldn’t be anywhere near as good as it is now. I’ve moved from Children’s Theatre member to Youth Theatre member to Youth Volunteer and in January I’ll be moving up into the Adult Company. So I can tell you this, no matter where you are in TramShed, you will find yourselves amongst some of the kindest, most generous and most inclusive people on the Fylde coast. Lauren Stevenson – Adult Company (September 2007 – July 2017)
Harry has been going to TramShed for nearly 5 years, he started when he started school. Harry absolutely loves TramShed, he’s gone from a shy little boy having to be taken in, to an 8 year old who cannot wait to get there. Harry was diagnosed with cancer in 2014 and before we knew, Harry could hardly walk but he would find all his strength to go to TramShed, nowhere else just TramShed.
Harry missed about 12 months of going to the group and he missed it so much. Zac and all the team were fab, we always got messages of support and a visit or two. Harry couldn’t wait to get back and he loves it more than ever. TramShed has helped Harry be a confident little boy who loves to sing and dance when ever he gets the chance. Julie Edwards – TramShed Parent
TramShed has helped our son massively, they have accepted who he is and welcomed him with open arms! Our son enjoys being involved fully in a production and he shows lots of pride in being able to perform. He has made a lovely group of friends and is always super excited to attend sessions. Our son began in TramShed two years ago and it was the first activity he was ever wholly welcomed in, as prior to this he was asked to leave groups due to his social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.
TramShed has helped to boost our sons self-esteem by enabling him to achieve at something and recognise that he has valuable skills, something which school have never managed to do yet! We thank the TramShed team for supporting our son completely and anyone thinking of attending TramShed can be guaranteed a service that goes above and beyond your expectations. Thank you all xxx. Debbie Bird – TramShed Parent